Khurram Zafar, known for his efforts as part of National Incubation Center Lahore and 47Ventures to help local startups grow and achieve their potential, has taken to Twitter to list down some steps which, according to him, are essential to attracting foreign investment in Pakistan’s knowledge economy.
Khurram Zafar has previously worked as the executive director of LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship and is currently the director of National Incubation Center, Lahore. He provides guidance and support to startups through these incubation centers and also heads a venture capital fund by the name of 47Ventures, which has invested in a number of prominent startups across the country.
He was recently included in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s task force for Knowledge Economy, and it appears that he is brimming with ideas on how to properly revitalize Pakistan’s knowledge-based economy. He took to Twitter on Thursday to directly address the Finance Minister of Pakistan, Asad Umar and listed down the steps he, after gaining experience from being part of 47 Ventures, thinks are necessary to bring in foreign investment in Pakistan’s Knowledge Economy.
A lot needs to be done to continue to attract foreign investment into #Pakistan‘s knowledge economy. Here are a few thoughts based on experience of @47_ventures, the 1st international venture capital fund exclusively focused on Pakistan for past 2 yrs. @Asad_Umar @investinpak 1/n
— Khurram Zafar (@kayzafar) January 17, 2019
Here are the steps that he thinks should be taken by the current government.
- Market Pakistan positively by showcasing its strengths and continuously communicating the steps being taken to improve Ease of Doing Business indicators. Publish investor guides, case studies, tax incentives, and strength of IP laws.
- Make it easier for investors to find promising opportunities in sectors of their interest through trade shows, road shows, national scale investor summits marketed globally, online directories, research and development, and tech transfer conferences.
- Create and market incentives to foreign investors (co-investments, tax breaks, special economic zones) for investing in locally domiciled companies and streamline the process of moving and registering investments through an efficient, one window operation.
- Facilitate investment management for those who have invested by creating a one window operation to deal with SECP, FBR, SBP, MoI, MoFA (business visas), Intelligence agencies (foreign directors) & ensure the protection of their rights and investment through swift judicial recourse.
- Investors in globally connected, knowledge economy ecosystems require assurances that companies will be able to receive and send, small and large payments globally; that interest, dividends & capital gains can be easily repatriated regardless of the Cash against Documents scenario.
- Help investors grow their investees. Develop HR development programs, create incentives for foreign execs to come/work here & train managers, eliminate turnover tax and GST on loss-making Companies, create level playing field by going after old economy tax evaders, and underwrite Business to Business credit.
- Facilitate exits. Create SME board on PSX. Underwrite IPOs that old economy investment bankers don’t understand. Train them. Facilitate & sponsor roadshows for IPOs & trade sales to tie in with the first and second point. Invite and roll out the red carpet for big, international acquirers.
- Document case studies of big, juicy exits and use them for marketing the country and closing the loop with the first point. Use the case studies to educate local investors to start investing in knowledge economy companies and for local innovators to start more such companies.
Governments are known by the advisers and people with relevant industry experience that they attract to their cause. It’s not fair to expect a seasoned politician to be expert in all the technicalities and nit and grits of running a country. That’s where adviser like Khurram Zafar come in. We hope that government makes proper use of his vast experience in Pakistan’s local industry and incorporates his suggestions to ensure that Pakistan’s journey towards becoming a knowledge-based economy continues without impedance.